For our final part in this short series on talent identification and development, we’ll summarise what we’ve discussed in the previous posts and give some practical tips and recommendations to help you enhance your process of developing youngsters.
Here are our top tips
- Don’t overemphasise Talent ID or Talent Selection. It will be far more beneficial in the long-run to put your resources into developing all the youngsters who join your club rather than trying to predict who will become the best player in future
- Keep your net as wide as you can for as long as you can. We don’t know who will develop and who will stay the same, so don’t disregard anyone based on their current level until you absolutely must
- Try to look beyond the physical skills associated with early developers. Look for things such as spatial awareness, ability to read the game, commitment and technical skills. These will lead you to some talented individuals regardless of physical ability
- Realise that everyone has their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Even at the elite level, there are various ways of doing the same job, so put your coaching biases to one side and look at how each player tries to play the game, then help them develop their weaker areas
- Committed kids will go further, so provide them with opportunity. Simply having a strong desire to improve will be a driver for future success. This can be obvious, as in the player who gets to training early to practise and always works hard, but it can also be hidden, such as the player who must travel a long way to make training. Search for those who really want to get better and reward them
- Provide a challenge for your better players. Often, the best players in junior competition are simply too good (or too big) for their peer-group, so challenge them in any way you can. If you can play them in an older age-group then this can sometimes be appropriate. If not, then be creative. Play them in a different position to normal, provide constraints such as only allowing a rugby player to run with the ball a certain number of times and asking them to pass and create for others at other times. Be aware that they might not like this approach at first, so always communicate clearly as to why you’re asking them to do something different.
- Provide success for your weaker players. For those not currently as strong physically or technically, try to provide periods of success to build confidence. Keep training drills simple if they struggle to pick up skills so they can reinforce basics and have the feeling of success as often as possible. Incorporate training sessions with the age-group below if you have a small group, so they are playing with some children who may be the same maturation level as them. Again, be creative in finding ways to help them succeed and keep them enjoying the sport.
- Communication is key. If your club truly has an ethos of development, then you might do some things in different ways to other clubs. Players and parents can’t be expected to understand this without explanation so it’s your job as coaches and managers to explain why you do what you do and provide feedback every step of the way
So that concludes our short series on talent development and how it relates to junior sporting clubs and organisations. We’ve only scratched the surface of what is potentially quite a controversial topic, with many viewpoints and plenty of discussion to be had.
Fowkes Fitness & Performance has extensive experience of working within talent development environments in elite professional clubs, as well as school and grassroots organisations.
Anyone wishing to take advantage of our Club Consultancy Service, please get in touch here.
Posted By: Rob Fowkes
Posted: 21 May 2018